Friday round-up highlighting the news and commentary of the week:

China just made its plans to fight climate change official [Think Progress]

China released its long-awaited post-2020 climate plan or INDC, on Tuesday. Highlights included a plan to reduce carbon emissions to 60-65% below 2005 levels and a promise to add 4.5 billion cubic meters of forest stock by 2030.

Reactions were mixed: although welcomed as a great first step, many commentators agreed that it didn’t go far enough and even that China was playing it safe and planning to under-promise and over-deliver.

Read the full INDC, or for those less inclined to wade through UN jargon, here are the essential takeaways.

8,500 People Arrested for environmental crimes in 2014 [Xinhua]

8,500 people were arrested on charges of environmental crimes, Environment Minister Chen Jining announced on Monday. 3,700 building sites and 3,400 companies were found to have flouted environmental laws, following air quality tests and drone inspections by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. A year after China “declared war” on pollution, we’re beginning to see some results; however the long term environmental implications are yet to be seen.

Chinese government commits 2.8 billion RMB to tackle heavy metal pollution [World Review]

The government has allocated 2.8 billion RMB across 30 Chinese cities, to fight China’s enormous heavy metal pollution problem, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. 11 of these cities are in Hunan Province, the scene of the 2013 Cadmium rice scandal and a groundbreaking lawsuit seeking compensation for lead poisoning found in local children. Just last month, Greenpeace uncovered lead poisoning and pollution in Jinding Town in Yunnan Province. Read more about that and see our own drone footage, here.

China turns away Australian Coal [Financial Review]

It emerged this week that China has been turning away Australian coal, due to ‘inconsistent’ quality. Since new coal quality control measures that restrict ash and Sulphur content of imported coal, some Australian cargos have failed to pass muster. Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche responded by expressing ‘concern’ over China’s regulation methods and suggesting that the measures may be a move to protect China’s domestic coal production.

Huge improvement seen in Beijing air quality [Xinhua]

Concentration of PM 2.5 has dropped by 15 % in the capital, it was announced on Monday, following several months of uncharacteristically blue skies. According to the report, there was an overall increase in air quality throughout the country, but there is still a huge mountain to climb. Of China’s 161 cities that are subject to AQI monitoring, only 16 met air quality standards last year. This chart released in January comparing China and US’s worst polluters gives some sobering perspective.  

…and one more…

‘Puppies’ raised by farmer in China’s Yunnan Province turn out to be endangered moon bears [South China Morning Post]

A farmer discovered that the dogs he had purchased as puppies were in fact endangered black bears. He made the discovery after noticing that they ‘don’t look like dogs’ and ‘behaved strangely’.